‘Don’t Go Into A State Of Denial’: Tips From A Self-Defense Instructor

Gershon Ben Keren teaches self-defense and martial arts at the Krav Maga Yashir studio in Charlestown. (Meara Sharma/WBUR)

Gershon Ben Keren teaches self-defense and martial arts at the Krav Maga Yashir studio in Charlestown. (Meara Sharma/WBUR)

The savage kidnapping and murder of Amy Lord has many in the city thinking about their own safety.

Gershon Ben Keren — who instructs self-defense classes in Charlestown, including free classes for women — teaches “krav maga,” a system of self defense developed by the Israeli military. Keren joined Radio Boston to discuss self-defense and offered some tips on how to handle potentially dangerous situations.

Interview Highlights

Comply materially, not physically:

“Compliance in many types of assault — mugging and street robberies — is totally advisable if somebody’s asking for possessions … That has to change, though, when you become the target of the assault, when someone wants to move you from the primary location where the assault occurs to a second location. The primary [location] represents your best survival opportunity — that’s why a person wants to move you from it. They’re going move you from it to somewhere that’s in their interest, which helps them facilitate the crime.”

An attacker’s worst fear is getting caught:

“Drawing attention to what’s going on puts pressure on them.”

Your escape is top priority:

“You don’t have to beat them physically, you have to prevent them from doing what they want to do to you … Stick a finger in the eye, strike the groin, cause a lapse in concentration and make a break away.”

Understand your body’s evolutionary history:

“The first instinct is denial, this isn’t happening. Our fear system has evolved over thousands of years to identify threats and dangers. When there’s that gut instinct telling you something’s wrong, don’t go into state of denial. Accept that your fear has been triggered for a reason.”

Find more information about Keren’s free self-defense classes for women here.


Gershon Ben Keren, a self-defense instructor at the Krav Maga Yashir studio in Charlestown

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